Clare Moriarty: Case Study

at Department for Exiting the European Union

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Clare Moriarty, Permanent Secretary for the Department for Exiting the European Union

“For me, connecting things together will always give you access to a wider range of solutions than anyone could get in their own minds, no matter how fantastically brilliant they are.”

CSaP’s value lies in creating time and spaces for individuals with different areas of expertise to come together. It facilitates opportunities to build networks and connections across disciplines, while challenging us to consider that the world isn’t necessarily the shape we think it is, and that there are different ways to approach and answer big questions in the policy space.

I have been part of the Policy Leader Fellowship since its beginning in 2013, and the roundtable discussions that I have been part in the years since have been interesting, rewarding, and enriching experiences which I continue to refer to. I have come to particularly appreciate that the program has the sensitivity to foster a basic common understanding of wide-ranging topics outside my area of expertise, such as machine learning and AI. Building that foundation has given me a much more solid base from which to delve deeper into questions of policy implications.

As policymakers, we have a tendency to go to academics with specific questions. Participating in CSaP roundtables has made it clear to me that we need to talk to academics at a much earlier stage in the policy process. We need policymakers and academics to have conversations about broad challenges, from which a set of questions can arise. One example of this principle in action, of which I am particularly proud, is my conversations with engineering professor Cam Middleton. The conversations CSaP facilitated for us while I was at the Department for Transport resulted in the identification of a gap in our understanding of passenger flow on rail platforms. We said, ‘there’s a hole that needs filling’, and a PhD research project came directly out of those conversations. That is how ideas get furthered and knowledge gets generated – through conversation.

Instead of seeing problem-solving as solely about the application of intellect, the civil service needs to solve problems by connecting people, building relationships, and creating opportunities for people who think differently to reframe the problem and contribute their rich expertise. I want DExEU to make engagement in the civil service shorthand for sharing things, and to build both developmental and policy objectives into every situation. More broadly, public policy works better, and the delivery of services works better, when it’s done in collaboration with the outside world. My watchwords are ‘open’, ‘value’, and ‘connected’, and openness is the distilling principle I constantly come back to as I work to make change happen.